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Jet slams into 3 homes in Indiana

| Sunday, March 17, 2013, 8:45 p.m.
The front end of a Hawker Beachcraft Premier jet sits in a room of a home on Iowa Street in South Bend, Ind., Sunday, March 17, 2013. Authorities said the private jet was apparently experiencing mechanical trouble.
South Bend police evacuate a resident from her home near the scene of a plane crash near the South Bend Regional Airport Sunday March 17, 2013 in South Bend, Ind. The private jet apparently experiencing mechanical trouble crashed Sunday in a northern Indiana neighborhood, striking three homes.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A private jet apparently experiencing mechanical trouble crashed on Sunday in a northern Indiana neighborhood, hitting three homes and killing two people aboard the plane, authorities and witnesses said.

The Beechcraft Premier I twin-jet en route from Tulsa crashed near South Bend Regional Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Roland Herwig said in Oklahoma City. Two of four people aboard the plane were killed, Herwig said.

South Bend Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Maggie Scroope said three people injured when the plane crashed were being treated there; one was in serious condition and two were in fair condition. Scoope did not know if they were on the plane or the ground. It was not clear whether anyone on the ground was killed or among the injured.

The plane was registered to 7700 Enterprises of Montana LLC in Helena, Mont. The company is owned by Wes Caves and does business as DigiCut Systems in Tulsa, Okla. It makes window film and paint overlay for automobiles.

A woman identifying herself as Caves' wife answered the phone at their home Sunday and said, “I think he's dead,” before hanging up.

In South Bend, Assistant Fire Chief John Corthier said the presence of jet fuel from the aircraft made the situation “very dangerous,” Corthier said. The plane was lodged inside a house.

“It's still a rescue operation,” Corthier said. Referring to one of the damaged houses, he said, “Because of the collapse in the house ... we have to shore up the house before we can enter.”

Part of the neighborhood southwest of the airport was evacuated. Buses transported up to 200 people to a nearby shelter, Red Cross volunteer Jackie Lincoln said.

Mike Daigle, executive director of the St. Joseph County Airport Authority, said the jet attempted a landing, went back up and maneuvered south to try another landing. Eight minutes later the airport realized the plane was not airborne.

Stan Klaybor, who lives across the street from the crash scene, said the jet clipped the top of one house, heavily damaged a second, and finally came to rest against a third. Neighbors did not know if a woman living in the most heavily damaged house was home at the time, and a young boy in the third house did not appear to be seriously injured, Klaybor said.

“Her little boy was in the kitchen and he got nicked here,” Klaybor said, pointing to his forehead.

His wife, Mary Jane, regularly watches planes approach the airport.

“I was looking out my picture window. The plane's coming, and I go, ‘Wait a minute,' and then, boom,” she said.

“This one was coming straight at my house. I went, ‘Huh?' and then there was a big crash, and all the insulation went flying,” she said.

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